Brendan Rodgers defends Mario Balotelli despite Liverpool’s goalless draw against Hull

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers vowed to stick with Mario Balotelli after another goalless but encouraging display against Hull.

Balotelli is still to score in the Barclays Premier League since moving to Anfield after the Reds were shut out by the Tigers in a 0-0 home draw.

But after some underwhelming performances, and controversy in midweek after exchanging shirts at half-time in the loss to Real Madrid, Balotelli produced a much-improved effort.

He had one of Liverpool's best chances in the first half, forcing a fine save from Eldin Jakupovic, and was again thwarted by the Hull goalkeeper with almost the last kick of the game.

His work rate and body language were also positive and Rodgers is convinced the controversial Italian will come good.

Rodgers said: "I thought he worked very well, very hard. He maybe thought he wasn't going to play today but you have got to stay with it. He is working hard and he is doing his best.

"Unfortunately it is that wee bit of confidence sometimes, when you don't get the goal. He kept going, kept getting into the areas.

"Sometimes with players if it's not going so well they have a day where they don't train or don't work, but he puts himself out to train every single day. He is out there wanting to be better, wanting to improve.

"Goalscorers will tell you they get their energy from the ball hitting the back of the net and it is just not happening for him in terms of that, but all I will ask is they do their best. You saw today's reaction. It was unlucky he didn't get the goal."

Liverpool showed urgency only sporadically but still created a number of chances and finished the match strongly.

Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho both went close in the closing minutes before Balotelli was denied at point-blank range by Jakupovic.

Rodgers said: "It was a big chance. We had one or two of those but we couldn't quite put the ball in the net.

"He will be disappointed he hasn't scored but, for the team, it was a big effort on the back of playing against a good team in midweek.

"We were a bit slow in the first half but in the second half I thought we were outstanding in the energy and effort we put into the game. It was a game we should have had three points from."

PA

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